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ad gotten off to a rocky start. but by mid-september 1985, hughes had found a rhythm with his actors. controlling as he might be, he loved to tinker, to rewrite on the fly. and he encouraged his actors to improvise as they went. >> and he would sit right underneath the camera and roll through a whole magazine so the
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actors get into a rhythm especially actors who are good with dialogue and good with improv. >> we would do the script as written, and then he'd say, "do something a little different," or "give me something," or "just surprise me." >> very rarely did he stop for anything. he would just say, "okay," and he wouldn't stop the cameras. he just said, "okay, do it again. let's start from there. let's pick that up." >> narrator: early on, this free-flowing improvisation led to one of the film's most well-loved speeches. >> one of the lines has become one of the famous lines from the movie -- "life moves pretty fast." >> you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. >> that wasn't in the original script. and it was in rehearsal with matthew that that line came out. even in the shooting draft, it wasn't the last nine of the movie. it was some other line that was "life's a carousel" or something like that. but then on the day, john said "let's call back that line." and, of course, everybody remembers that. >> narrator: even entire performances could be improvised. >> bueller? >> narrator: the teacher's role call was originally intended to
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be just an off-camera voiceover, but when a friend of the producers -- a political-speech writer -- walked in, it became much, much more. >> ben had a very unusual voice. and when i started reading this and the voiceover, "bueller? anyone?" you know, the names, i said, "wow, ben's voice would be great for this." >> "adams? adamly? adamowskly? bueller? bueller? bueller?" and i started reading that off-camera. >> the kids in the classroom every time ben would say something, they actually started laughing. the crew would laugh. >> john hughes said, "let's do that on-camera." and then i did it on-camera, and the student extras were just laughing their heads off. and john said, "why don't you -- do you have a scene that you could improvise right now that you could just do off the top of your head?" >> ben did his voodoo economics speech, which was a true speech from the nixon years. >> something-d-o-o economics. voodoo economics.
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>> actually, that to me was a surprise, 'cause i thought that was an extremely interesting lecture, but apparently it's considered a model of boredom. >> narrator: as the film rolled behind schoolhouse walls and into ferris' perfect day, hughes reached into his own life for inspiration for a pivotal character, which he would develop with the actor. >> i found it interesting that john identified as ferris and not as cameron. he said he was always the one -- he and his girlfriend were doing something. there was always some doofus in the backseat. >> they always had some friend of his hanging around who was always envious of their relationship. >> cameron was based in large part on a friend of mine in high school who was sort of a lost person. >> what makes that movie more than just a teen comedy is alan ruck's performance. your heart just breaks for him when you realize this horrible relationship he has with his father. >> i always felt an openness to trying something besides his way. it wasn't always like it was set in stone. >> narrator: several of ferris'
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early scenes were improvised as well. in one such scene, ferris finds ways to make the time go by while waiting for cameron. >> he has a lot of trouble deciding what to wear for the day. i had a karate costume. there was a lot of me wandering around in that outfit. i remember having a '20s-style megaphone and just lying on my back on a couch and singing. because there were some shots, which there still are, of just bored, waiting around for cameron to call him back. but that was cut. [ chuckles ] and there was other -- besides the clarinet, i think there was a guitar sequence, an air guitar that got cut. >> narrator: even as ferris got ready for his perfect day, others were scheming to stop him. the school principal was seemingly rigid, but his character was developing on the fly. >> he so perfectly represents that kind of buffoonish authority figure, that guy who has a little bit of power in the world of this high school and
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chooses to just blow that power completely out of proportion. >> everything should be in perfect order, and, of course, at the end of the movie, his life's in chaos. >> when we started rehearsal, he said, "you know, i based this on the vice principal of the school i went to." and we went to his school and filmed there. and he told me that he carried a gun. and then he introduced me to the guy, and he was as serious as a shot in the head. and he actually was packing a pistol, and he was in school. so that gave me an idea, a clue about how deadly serious and humorless the guy was. >> he's a man who really has to have that power, who has to sit on a throne. in fact, i gave him a chair that's very low to the ground. i don't know if anybody will notice. we had the whole desk, the whole thing lowered, so that when he's sitting in his desk, his secretary towers over him. >> narrator: edie mcclurg played grace, the principal's secretary. coming from the world of improv comedy, she had a professional
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training that hughes could exploit. >> and i was sitting at the desk, and he looked at me, and he said, "how many pencils do you think you could hold in that head?" i put four in, and i bent down and that fell out, and i said three. he says, "okay, we're gonna start the scene that way." so that's my first thing on camera, is seeing me pull the pencils out of my hair. >> narrator: together, hughes, mcclurg, and the cast spun a string of gags into the elaborate telephone sequence. >> there's a scene in the office that we improvised. >> that whole sequence, when rooney thinks he's on the phone with ferris and therefore he begins saying terrible things about sloane's grandmother. >> yeah, that's right. just roll her old bones on over here, and i'll dig up your daughter. >> that was a much bigger sequence in the movie than had been on the page. >> we were all in a panic because i have to come up with some excuse for having mistaken who i think is mr. peterson on the phone. we improvised that. paul, the editor, did a fabulous
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job of putting it together. >> they put matthew and alan in the office next door and were able to connect that up so that all of the stuff that happened in the house later matches up to what we did in the office while we were shooting. >> they were off-camera. on-camera, you see alan being coached by matthew on the house set, which was done later. but i think that matthew and alan did come in, but they weren't saying the script. they were saying things i can't say on your television. >> whatever we did to jeffrey, i'm sure it was done with john's blessing. and i'm not sorry. i'm not the least bit sorry. and i'd do it again. john just said, "you have to put on a dad voice." so, we'd been directed by this man gene saks in new york in "biloxi blues." and matthew actually does a really good imitation of gene saks. >> [ as sloane's dad ] a family member dies, and you insult me!
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what the hell is the matter with you, anyway? >> gene is a theater director and very organic and loud and easy to read. >> we would screw around on stage, and he would get so pissed off, and he'd scream at us. and so i decided to do an imitation of matthew imitating gene, and i didn't tell matthew i was gonna do it just to get a rise out of him. but it worked. that was my first choice, and it worked and wound up being in the movie. >> narrator: in the office, they were just getting started. >> we had done everything that was in the script. and then john said, "okay, now let's just have some going back and forth between the outer office and the inner office." >> he had no problem letting us improvise a little bit within that structure, because it was pretty strong. >> and jeffrey is a very script guy. i mean, you know, he was "amadeus" and all of that stuff and broadway. so he's just used to doing the script. and there wasn't anything there for him to look at.
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and his eyes got really wide. he said, "what are we going to do?" >> edie and i had the best fun on this. >> there's an actual improve game. i look like i'm helping you, but i'm really hindering you. so i said, "in whatever direction i'm going, you go in the opposite direction. >> that was entirely her doing. that was great. >> all of that flying with the papers and running around him -- whenever he was going one way, i would go the other way. and then he spun around, and we finished, and i thought, "well we're gonna try this again," and john hughes leaned over to the camera, and he said, "moving on!" one take. >> narrator: hughes was on a role. but with all the improv, the schedule was slipping. and the most ambitious scenes in the film were yet to come, with thousands of extras, marching [ cat 1 ] i am not a vegetarian... look at these teeth! they're made for meat! [ cat 2 ] do i look like i'm stalking plants?
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>> narrator: by october of 1985,
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principal photography on "ferris bueller's day off" had been under way for a month, but already, director john hughes' script rewrites and improvisational shooting style had caused delays. >> he never stopped writing, ever, ever, ever. he was always writing. so it began going over-schedule. >> narrator: and the biggest production numbers still had to be filmed. hughes wanted to show off his favorite city, and he had some big set pieces in mind to do just that. >> i really wanted to captd in what was then the tallest building in the world. >> there was a line when they were on the top of the sears tower, and they're leaning against the glass, and sloane says, "what happens if we fall?" and ferris says, "death." and sloane says, "cool." and i think the sears tower wouldn't let them shoot that. >> narrator: then they headed over to another landmark to take in a ballgame -- wrigley field home of the cubs. >> both: hey, bada, bada, bada bada, swing bada! >> never was a cub fan. never will be. chicago white sox weren't playing day games, so i had to shoot at wrigley field, which is a very nice ball park, but wrong
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team. >> narrator: from wrigley, they took a surprise turn for a shot of culture. >> it originally said they'd go to the museum of science and industry. and then we went and scouted the art institute, and then john just said, "oh, if we can shoot here, i want to shoot here." >> it was a thrill to be with those paintings for a whole day in an empty room. that was a great pleasure. >> this was going to be the most paintings ever in a movie that we were gonna see. >> it took us a while to get permission to shoot there and a lot of restrictions on lighting and the paintings. these are classic works of art. the painting that cameron was looking at was seurat. he was a pointillist painter. painted with the dots. but john saw it, and that wasn't written in the script. he saw that and go, "oh. i can say something about cameron, about how locked he is into his own life." >> he kind of identifies with the idea that he's looking at all these little parts of her face and isn't quite sure who he is. >> he shot a lot of coverage and he shot a lot of different sizes. there was only so close we could get to the painting, because of it being a priceless work of it. we had the art department paint
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like a tiny, little square of just dots and shot that. >> it's a really powerfully emotional sequence in the middle of a movie that is otherwise very lighthearted and fun. >> narrator: the highlight of the day off, the centerpiece of john hughes' shoot, was a parade. he'd been thinking about it for years. >> when i was in advertising, i was about two blocks away from there. and whenever there was a parade, i'd slip out of work and go stand there and watch the parades go by. >> narrator: this was the most ambitious movie scene that hughes had ever attempted. he had directed party scenes on a set, but now he was going to have to direct thousands of extras in elaborate musical numbers in the heart of a major city. >> we went to the permit office, said, "are there any real parades going on during this?" and it turned out there were three or four. then one of them was this giant parade, which was the general von steuben parade. it was the german-american appreciation. >> and it was an actual parade which we put our float into, unbeknownst to anybody. all the people on the reviewing stand, nobody knew what it was including -- i believe the governor was there. he didn't know what we were doing. >> but we built ferris' float,
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and then we picked three other floats that were real floats out of their parade, and they let us sort of adjust where they were on either side of ferris' float. >> they kept going around behind it with matthew on the float and they would keep putting it into the parade. >> narrator: but at the end of the day, they still had more shots to get, so they planned their own parade and hoped for the best. >> they, like, had contests on the radio. they said, "paramount pictures is shooting a film." we thought, "are we gonna have as many people as that real parade? we probably won't." somebody estimated 10,000 people showed up. so it was way, way more than expected.horeographer kenny ortega, who would go on to choreograph "dirty dancing" and direct the "high school musical" movies, was called in to stage the big number. but his star had a problem. >> i was just trying to learn "twist and shout," and i hurt my knee terribly right early on shooting that movie, actually. one of the scenes, running through a yard, i dislocated my
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kneecap, and big, swollen. so i couldn't really rehearse, and i had to change a lot of choreography. he was like, "just make it up. just mess around," which is basically most of what you see. the girls are doing choreography, and i'm just running around, not knowing what's happening. but that was encouraged by both john and kenny. they wanted me to look like i didn't know what i was doing which was fine and was true. >> there was a shot of a construction worker high up on the building, dancing. that was a real construction worker. we were filming, and the music was blaring. someone poked john or the cameraman and said, "look. look at that guy up there." tilted the camera up really quickly and caught him. never knew who he was. >> this crane came up. we realized, "oh, my god, we've got thousands and thousands of people. they were coming from all over the immediate area and thought it was a real parade, thought it was a real event. >> and that's one of those magical movie moments, where you could feel it on the set toward the end where the camera cranes up. everybody's streamed into the streets and started dancing and singing.
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it was real, and it was just -- i got chills when we did it. so we knew, "okay, this is special." >> it really just felt like a huge crowd and a spontaneous thing of joy. [ cheers and applause ] >> narrator: the parade was the highlight, but there were other stops around town that hughes was trying to work into the schedule, including ferris' appearance at a local radio station. >> he goes on a radio show, and he's interviewed. >> saying that i was gonna be going on the space shuttle next year and was gonna be the first teenager in space. >> the trailer for the film actually went out with some of that material, and it had to be recalled 'cause the day before the trailer was to play, this terrible thing happened with the shuttle. >> the challenger blew up. that took a very tragic tone. >> paramount had to pull all those prints. then i had to go and recut remix the picture. >> narrator: several other scenes were also cut, though for less tragic reasons. >> as part of their touring day, where they take a lot of those sightseeing boats on the chicago river. >> narrator: and another scene in the racier part of town also didn't make the final cut. >> they did many more things that are not the kinds of things
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that your parents would want you to do. >> they were supposed to take me to a strip club. >> narrator: the strippers weren't the only ones up on stage. >> there was a whole scene where i did an elvis impression. i sang "are you lonesome tonight?" >> it was sort of a fantasy sequence. and i had to go make that kind of thing. i'm thinking, "my budget, my budget. oh, my god." you can't just rent that outfit. those are big deals that nobody even hears about ever. >> narrator: with all the excess scenes, it wasn't surprising that hughes found himself over-schedule and over-budget. >> we went about eight or nine days over-schedule, and that was true of most of john's movies, 'cause he shot a lot. >> i know he was under pressure from paramount to a degree. >> nobody really knew whether these movies were going to work or not. nobody wanted these movies to be runaway productions. >> if you budget for a normal movie in a day, 300,000 feet of film. john would shoot 800,000 feet of film and print 70% of it. >> narrator: and with this time-consuming directing style it was no wonder the studio started to get a little nervous.
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>> when the schedule began to creep, ned got on a plane, and he flew to chicago. >> a couple of guys in suits came at lunchtime to talk to john. and after lunch, john was pissed off. apparently, what they told him was "we love the dailies. we love everything you're doing. but you have this many days left to finish the movie. make any kind of movie you want, but you have this many days." >> they were a little worried about it getting out of control. >> narrator: and as the production neared completion of principal photography, those worries would only increase. >> that sequence was scheduled for three days, and it took six days.
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ió >> narrator: heading into the home stretch "ferris bueller's day off" was nine days behind schedule. john hughes and his team had their hands full, packing more fun into an already crowded day. contributing to schedule delays were mechanical problems with ferris' ride, the 1961 ferrari gt spyder, a $350,000 vintage car borrowed
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from cameron's father. >> we had three cars. we had what we called the hero car, which the main cast drove in, and then we had a stunt car for all of the fast driving. >> it had better suspension, a bigger engine. and there was the one that went out the window that was just a shell. >> the cars we used in the wide shots were obviously reproductions, because there were only a hundred of these cars. way too expensive to destroy. so we had a number of replicas made. >> they were crap, a real pain in the ass. there was one scene that we did 16 takes of, and it's when we're back at the parking garage in the city. and we'd come to collect the car and would come around -- brrr! -- fine. talk, talk, pay the guy. go to get in the car, wouldn't start. it just had really cheesy electrical systems. >> like any mechanical thing in a movie, there's constant things breaking down. >> there were big cheers when that thing went screaming out the window into the ravine. people were happy to see it die. [ laughs ] >> narrator: that death was not
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simple to stage. >> the climactic scene where cameron kicks the car off the jacks -- it's a big sequence. it was a sequence that was both a dramatic sequence, a dialogue sequence, and an action sequence, because cameron had to go through this whole epiphany about who he was. >> narrator: hughes knew it was a key scene and wanted it to be perfect. >> so, that sequence was scheduled for three days, and it took six days. >> he was really just like, "you got to remember." 'cause, you know, he was going over it very carefully numerous times about what a bastard my father is, how long this has been going on. >> i think alan had more to say in that scene in the garage when he beats up his car, but i think just the act of beating the [bleep] out of the car really said a lot, so he didn't need to say so much. >> "the car is your dad. let her rip." the car was faced toward the street, and they had a pulley system. >> i was on the set because i wanted to see it. i wanted to see how they did that. >> we drilled a little hole through the window, and we ran a cable out through a really complicated towing system down
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through the ravine. >> the cable went down the driveway, around to the corner and down another street and actually attached to a real heavy-duty pickup truck. >> and we had this huge crane with a pulley, and we pulled it out. >> when they said "action," that guy in the tow truck just floored it and just spun that thing like a top. it went -- swoosh! -- like that. >> when it came out the window you know, they were cranking pretty hard. i think they had like four or five cameras on it, you know cranking. but they overcranked, you know as it came out through the window, and it was like... [ makes humming noise ] [ makes crashing noise ] >> when the car went out the window, we were hoping that it would clear the building. what we were afraid of is it would break the glass, the impact would slow the car, and it would sort of tilt and fall out. but it really actually shot out of the building and flew over the mark that we were expecting, that we had hoped for. it flew way beyond that and fortunately hit a fence, which kept it from going off of this
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property onto another property. >> we did one take, and that was it. they had several cameras on it. so the challenge in the editing was to build up to that point the various shots of the car on the jack, the wheels spinning in the air, cameron kicking the front of the car, and so forth telling that story rhythmically and including his performance, his growing frustration and anger. and that was the challenge. >> narrator: and there were still other problems. >> and when the thing hit, there was a little problem that they fixed it in post, when they covered it with branches and leaves and stuff. but it was a fiberglass body, so when it hit the bottom of the ravine, the hood ripped a little bit, which a ferrari wouldn't do, because it's, you know aluminum. >> it was getting late to september, and we were a little over-schedule, and the leaves started to change color. and we had guy with hudson sprayers, these little paint cans, spraying the leaves green. >> narrator: after six weeks in chicago, with the large set pieces complete, it was time to head back to california to finish the shoot. despite the time pressure, john hughes was having a great
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time with the final scenes. >> it was like a game. there was a sense of play that very few directors that i've ever met do. >> narrator: one of those scenes was jeanie finding rooney breaking into the bueller home. >> yeah. i mean, i have a very high kick. i've always been able to kick my leg really high. so i did my own kick for my kicking him in the chin, which was very high up there, 'cause he's very tall. >> when jeanie kicks me in the kitchen, they were just gonna have the kick and then -- bam! -- somebody was gonna fill in for me and fall over on the floor. and i suggested that we do it in cuts and i'd do it myself, and it would be like a tree falling in the forest, and you'd see the boom, boom, boom, and then the eyes go up into the head and fall out of the frame. and then, you know, another angle falling down, and the -- boom! -- another angle. so, he could do that. it wasn't what they intended to
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do. it was a suggestion i made which they refined. >> it was done with him nowhere near my foot. and they under-cranked it, or over-cranked it, whatever they call it, which makes it go faster. >> there were three sizes on the kicks. i thought, "well, i'll just have her kick him three times." and then, when he fell, he had three shots for rooney falling. one was his butt hitting the ground, the other was his head hitting the ground, and the other was from below his feet, where his feet spread apart. and at the same time, jeanie is running up the stairs, so i decided to intercut them so that she kicks him, he starts to fall, and she runs up the stairs. when his head hits the ground, she runs up the stairs some more, and then his feet come apart. and this was not in the script but it was in the material. >> narrator: one of the great last scenes showcased a small role with a little-known actor. >> drugs? >> thank you, no. i'm straight. >> i recommended that john hire charlie sheen, who i'd just worked with on "red dawn." but no one knew him yet.
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>> i remember john saying, "this is who i want to cast," and everybody saying, "who's charlie sheen?" and him saying "he's emilio esteves' brother." he said, "this kid is gonna be a star. just you wait." >> i thought he was incredible. it was so simple, so profound, and no one could have done it any better. >> charlie was really into it, 'cause it was like, "okay, i can come in." you know, the whole look and did his hair and, you know, dark shadow under his eye. "i can create something here." and it's a very memorable scene. and he obviously recognized that in reading the script and being offered it. >> probably only worked a day or two. it was just one of those fabulous scenes. come in for a couple days, steal the movie, and, you know go away. >> i worked with charlie's brother on "breakfast club," and that was very similar. felt very much like working with emilio. >> narrator: the character's name was garth volbeck. he and his family had an entire backstory that ended up on the cutting-room floor. >> his whole story line was cut
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about the part charlie sheen played. that was a running story through the film. but all you saw was him in the police station. >> and it's like a whole page of dialogue where he's telling a story about this family and their drama. >> his family was the family that ferris' mom was selling the house to, 'cause they were moving to town. so it was sort of organically integrated into the story. >> this was charlie sheen's character, his family with the volbecks. there was a little bit more to do with them. his father owned the tow company. >> it is a very different movie than it was on the page. >> john would, like, throw out an idea to me in between takes always. like, it was always like, "try one like this. try one like that. do this, do that." and that's my favorite thing because i think that when you don't quite know what's gonna happen, you know, "make up a name. make up another name," or something. >> you didn't tell me your name. >> oh. it's -- it's jean, but, uh, a lot -- a lot of guys call me shana. >> okay, jean. >> i just make up a name, and i
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just say, "but, um, you can call me shana. my friends call me shana." adding the "danke schoen," you know, from the parade was also an improv and just, like singing it as i went down the stairs and the idea of singing because -- oh, and then the laughing was totally improvised. >> [ laughs, snorts ] >> jeanie, now! >> [ laughs ] >> narrator: grey's final scene proved to be her most difficult, mainly because of her growing relationship with matthew broderick, a relationship they were trying to keep secret. >> at least i thought we were keeping it secret. >> how are you gonna keep that secret on a film set? good luck. >> i had a lot of energy in that scene, because it was my first scene with matthew, so we had this chemistry and this secret or so we thought. >> hi. >> [ sighs ] >> thank god you're all right. you know, we've been worried sick about you. >> i found something really funny. and when i looked at him, he would look at me just kind of like with this hilarious
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expression. i couldn't look at him. and i was biting on my lip. i had blood in my mouth. i was pinching myself. i was banging on myself. i was apologizing. i was almost in tears, i was so out of control with the laughing, because i couldn't like, lock eyes with him. it was just too much for me. if i look at it now, i kind of can see that i'm, like, just barely holding it together. but i was literally digging sharp objects into my own ass. [ chuckles ] >> narrator: after eight weeks on the set, the filming finally reached its end. each actor got a special send-off -- a pie in the face. but for john hughes, the real pie in the face would come in the edit room as he struggled to finish the film. >> he'd say, "just burn the negative. i don't care. just burn it." there's the big talk about the period there's no talk about the menopause. it's like an adventure every day. you kinda don't know really what's gonna happen. as a grown woman you would think that this would be common knowledge. is this a symptom, or..? whew lordy help me... i am sooo hot!
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er's day off" wrapped principal photography in the fall of 1985, but the real work was just beginning. the original screenplay was 126 pages -- far longer than most comedies. add in all the extra takes, the extra rewrites, the extra improvisations, and there was a ton of material. >> he had shot so much footage. >> the script was long at the end of it, and then john would add things. he would add dialogue and let scenes go on, and there are gags that went on a long time. >> narrator: an average comedy runs an hour and a half. this was something else altogether. >> first cut was 2 hours and 45 minutes, which was the longest first cut i had ever done.
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>> narrator: something had to change. big decisions needed to be made in the edit room. but john hughes didn't enjoy the postproduction process. at times, it seemed as it he really didn't want to be in the edit room at all. >> he loved the act of invention, the sensation of coming up with new material. shooting a film and finishing a film i think were tedious for him. >> narrator: he came into the edit excited about a new script he had started -- "planes, trains, and automobiles." >> he was much more interested in his next project than he was in finishing the last one. he had had these mercurial changes of mood. when we were mixing "ferris," there were days when he didn't show up. and i would say, "john, you have to come to the mix." and he'd say, "just burn the negative. i don't care. just burn it." >> i mean, paul hirsch did an amazing job with john of figuring out exactly how to give that movie narrative tension. because it's never dull, and it's the hardest thing in the world to make a movie without a conventional, three-act story.
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>> narrator: to start, all sorts of characters and scenes hit the cutting-room floor, beginning with ferris' other siblings. >> we had some younger kids that were cut out. >> played by josh peden and hannah cutrona. >> real nice young girl. she was probably about 12, 13, something like that. and then there was a little boy who was probably john when he was 6. you know, 'cause he was this very erudite kid. you look at the refrigerator you'll see, like, little kids' drawings and things. >> i didn't remember these characters at all. "what? who are these people?" and there was a younger brother and sister. i have no memory of shooting them. >> narrator: the bueller siblings weren't the only characters to end up on the cutting-room floor. hughes had to lose a discovery he was proud of. >> when rooney's at the house, you know, getting chased by the dog, these flowers get delivered. and there was a whole sequence with louie anderson talking to him. in the movie, it's just the end of it.
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he's just, like, walking away. [ horn honks ] >> narrator: more importantly, hughes decided to change the tone of the film and ferris himself by cutting out some of his darker, more cynical monologues and shaping him into a sweeter, more upbeat character. >> in the original script, ferris -- you know, he wasn't judd nelson from "the breakfast club," but he was closer to that character. he was angrier. one of the things that really bothered me about the script when i read it was that ferris bueller was a smoker, and, also, there was drinking. and i remember saying, "you know, we're trying to build a teenage icon here. if we're doing our jobs right, this is a character that's going to last forever. we really shouldn't take a character like that and have him smoke cigarettes." >> he trimmed a lot of the more somber talking to the audience. it became more of a comedy. >> i do have a test today. that wasn't [bleep] >> when he shortened it, he started to realize that it was a bit of a screwball comedy, not
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quite cinema. he didn't want to directly talk about adolescence so much. >> s thoughtful monologues by mr. bueller that were, upon second viewing, not so interesting. >> there was a long thing about nuclear war, and what are they supposed to do about nuclear war. >> that sort of tone, which is still in the movie, there was much more of that... >> i was serious when i said i would marry her. i would. >> know, the sort of fear of becoming like your parents or losing hope and youth, and that was was more directly spoken about originally. >> narrator: then, with a tighter, more focused story and a more charming hero, hughes and his editor realized that the film still needed some radical surgery. >> one of the other things that we did in the editing of the film was to change the sequence of events during the day. >> it is often said a movie is made three times, once in the script, once when it's being
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shot, and once in the editing room. >> it occurred to me very late in the process that the day should be structured so that the parade sequence, which was the biggest and most energetic and most exciting scene in the day should come at the very end of the day, which was not the original intent. we tested the picture, and it didn't do as well as we thought. john decided that it was because of the music in the museum sequence. and at the same time, i had come up with this idea of putting the parade sequence at the end. so we made those changes at the same time, and when we previewed it next, the picture did much better. he ascribed it to having changed the music in the museum sequence, and i ascribed it to having put the parade sequence at the end of the day. [ camera shutter clicking ] >> narrator: one change would influence comedy directors for years to come -- a scene playing over the credits. >> the scene that's over the credits -- rooney on the bus -- that was in the body of the movie in the script.
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it was, you know, after he'd been defeated, and he was on the bus, while we were intercutting with ferris getting home and running home and nearly missing his dad. but john decided, "no, that's slowing it down, because it's not a real threat. rooney's already taken care of." >> john had filmed a little tag to go at the end of the end credits in which ferris comes out and looks at the audience and says, "it's over. go home." and i thought, "john, no one's ever gonna see this tag at the end of the credits, because no one ever stays through the credits." >> go. >> "why don't we take the scene of rooney on the bus," which we had eliminated and which was a funny scene, "and play that during the credits so people will stay and watch that scene and then they'll see the tag at the end of the movie?" >> gummy bear? >> narrator: although some directors dread test screenings, hughes and his editor embraced the process and used audience reactions to help shape the film. >> the great thing about editing
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comedies is that when you go to a screening, you can tell how well your work is working by the volume and frequency of the laughter. >> he had a really good ear and eye for what the audience was telling him. he didn't care so much what the cards said. >> i remember him making one significant change in ferris after the first preview. the preview went very well. lots of laughs. people loved the character. >> something wasn't working, or a character says something. i remember there was something. >> i remember them liking every single thing about the movie except for one thing, which was a line that mia sara had at the parade. >> and he could feel the audience sort of "hmm," like afterwards. he caught it. he said, "there's something they didn't like about that." and he looked at the cards. >> she says something like "it's so much harder for boys, because a girl can always cop out and have a baby and find some guy to support her." and cameron says something like, "that sounds depressing." and she says, "it is depressing, but it's an option. you know, you don't even have an
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option." girls hated that line. >> it was meant as an ironic criticism of gender politics but it went over the heads of the audience, and they thought maybe she was espousing that. and he says, "oh, we've got to get rid of that line." >> the young female scores on "ferris" at that first preview were very low, and we realized right away from the cards and the focus group it all came down to that one line, and we cut the line. i think it's the most dramatic preview change i've ever seen by simply cutting one line. we cut that one line, and i think young-female scores went up 40 points. >> narrator: as hughes and editor paul hirsch put the finishing touches on this unorthodox film, the paramount marketing department faced the daunting task of selling it. and at the first big screening not even the cast was sure they had anything worthwhile. >> we watched it, and we were pretty much horrified.
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>> loved music. had an incredible ear and encyclopedic knowledge of music. >> he listened to music all the time, john. he was an absolute fanatic about it. >> it was incredibly exciting to watch john play with music. we used to go to his house these great bags full of records. and he would play videos, and we would just try different needle drops against the picture, and we would be there all night. and sometimes you were looking for three seconds or five seconds, the intro to a scene, just to sort of -- you know? but it was brilliant. >> he would spend nights just sitting in front of his word processor, writing, listening to music, always trying new things. >> the yello song over the car that became so famous and used in car commercials and everything. >> i think "oh yeah" was one of the songs that he sort of wrote "ferris" to, and then we found somewhere to put it in. >> john gave me full discretion
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to use whatever music i wanted and i chose a number of songs. when he saw the first cut, he said to me, "the music is great. i loved your choices. it was fantastic." about a month later, he says, "i can't stand the music. we got to get rid of it." >> he'd try different things under scenes, and he played it really loud. he loved loud, loud music. >> narrator: the one song hughes knew he wanted to use from the very beginning was the beatles' "twist and shout." >> he was a big beatles fan, and he really, really wanted that "twist and shout," which was a nightmare. the beatles had this sort of sneery attitude to licensing their songs. they felt it diluted their mojo, that by giving the music away to movies, it made it less special. there was i think a committee at capitol records that would meet once a year to grant a couple.
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and we were just in time to hit that meeting. for me, sleepless nights waiting for that decision. there was no fallback position on this one, you know? and thankfully, we got it. it cost an awful lot of money. >> paul mccartney had mentioned in an interview that he didn't like the horns on this and that if they'd wanted horns on it they bloody well would have put horns on it. and i felt really bad, 'cause, you know, i had offended a beatle. it actually charted. it put his song back on the charts. it was the first time in years that a beatles song had been on the billboard charts. [ cheers and applause ] pacing and music in place, the filmmakers were finally ready to begin the process of selling "ferris bueller." john hughes had worked in advertising for years. with the launch of his new comedy, he'd have the chance to market his own product. >> the idea was to make the marketing cool. that was the idea. the idea was that the film is cool. the marketing should be cool. and i think they pulled that off.
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>> he came from that background of advertising. everybody sort of ended up deferring to him, 'cause no matter what he came up with, it was better than what anybody else could do. >> i remember the billboards all over the city of the one sheet of matthew with his hands behind his head and that great smile. >> narrator: on first viewing, though, some of the cast didn't believe the marketing. they weren't sure the film was anyone's best day. >> i don't think it was the final edit, but it was pretty close. and we watched it, and we were pretty much horrified. nobody said a thing. and then i think jeffrey piped up, and he said, "what do you think?" [ laughs ] and everybody's just kind of you know, trying not to swallow their tongue. and truthfully, from that experience, i was like, "i don't know. i don't see it." we were just seeing our parts in it and just not convinced that any of it was any good, you
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know? and then here's matthew, like, popping in, in and out, talking to the audience, and being amusing. but maybe this thing's gonna die. >> narrator: but that all changed with a real audience. >> i think i s >> they had this packed-theater sneak preview, and i went to see that, and the audience went bananas over it. >> i remember the audience just shrieking and laughing and screaming so loud that it was hard to even hear the next line. it just felt very electric. >> the premiere was at grauman's chinese, and when they came to the parade scene and "twist and shout," people started standing up and twisting in the aisles. it was so exciting. >> i couldn't believe it. i couldn't believe it. people applauded three, four
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times in the movie, or more. i mean, they just were crazy about this film. >> my wife and i went to see it, and i remember thinking to myself, "this movie, to me, is just a work of genius, but i don't know if anybody else is gonna get it." >> did it work? anyone? anyone know the effects? >> my wife and i went down the street to a little -- i can't remember -- this chinese or japanese restaurant. and we're sitting there at a table in the window, and person after person came up to the window, even then, the first night, and said, "bueller, bueller."lthough audiences loved the film, not all the critics agreed. >> i also, though, remember it getting a lot of bad reviews. it got very mixed. it got some great and some bad. and i got some bad, too, so i was very freaked out and worried. >> i think that critics probably looked at it and said, you know, "this is just a goof." i find that critics, as often as they get things right, they also
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get things wrong. they don't necessarily notice the achievement of a movie for a few years, until after it comes out. >> narrator: but there was something about "ferris bueller" that just transcended reviews. >> and it played all summer and ended up at $70 million, and the movie was made for $10.8 million. so it was a very successful movie. >> narrator: "ferris bueller" was, in fact, hughes' most successful film to date, and it would set him on the road to even greater success. but success wasn't enough. >> he wasn't really interested in playing the hollywood game.
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>> narrator: when it was released on june 13, 1986, "ferris bueller's day off" hit the ground running. the film would end up grossing over $70 million in the u.s. alone, ranking in the top-10 most successful films of the year. the ultimate success of the film, though, wouldn't be measured in dollars, but in impact.
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>> ferris bueller is such an incredibly powerful character, you can't resist him. you leave that theater with such a smile on your face. >> people connect with it. kids connect with it. >> and it's as relevant now as ever. >> i think we still care about "ferris bueller" because it is a perfect combination of wish fulfillment and sort of character study. >> i'm just shocked and [laughs] proud that 25 years later, people say, "my kids loved that." i'm certainly very, very proud of "ferris." >> narrator: the film was so successful that it spawned a short-lived 1990 television show for nbc, with charlie schlatter playing ferris and relatively unknown jennifer aniston as jeanie. like most successful films there was discussion of a sequel to "ferris bueller's day off," but the star and the director could never together to make it happen. >> there was some talk about it,
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but john never really seemed absolutely thrilled about it. you could sort of do the same thing again in college or at your boring job or something. until we really have, you know a script or whatever, you know how could i say yes? and he said, "well, i'm not gonna write a script if ferris bueller's not saying yes." and i look back on that and think, "of course i should have said yes. that was really ridiculous of me." >> people will constantly come up to me and say, "bueller bueller," just constantly. and this is -- what's it now been? -- 25 years since the movie was made. so the phenomenon is still very much alive. >> i just made a movie last summer in moscow, and everybody knew about "ferris bueller." >> i've done about 40 pictures now, including "star wars" and "empire strikes back," but the pictures that i hear about most are, of course, the "star wars" movies, but the second most mentioned picture is "ferris." >> my boyfriend went to his 20-year high-school reunion a
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couple years ago, and he was like so cool, because he said, "guess what? guess who i'm living with?" ferris bueller's girlfriend. oh, it was great. everyone at andover in his year was like, "no way, man!" >> narrator: even as recently as 2011, a screening of "ferris bueller" at wrigley field broke a guinness world record for the largest sing-along. >> listen. i mean, think of all the comedies you watch that are just cheesy or bad or the characters are not relatable or the dialogue is not interesting. i mean, there's so many ways a comedy can go wrong. and for "ferris bueller" to be such a brilliant comedy is really quite an achievement. >> if you look at almost any of the sort of teen movies of the '80s that were not written and directed by john hughes, i think they lack some of the resonance of hughes' movies. >> narrator: "ferris bueller's day off" solidified matthew broderick's star appeal. he was nominated for a golden globe for his performance as ferris. he went on to star in films like "glory," "election," and
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"godzilla" and was the voice of simba in disney's "the lion king." he continues to be a sought-after actor for both stage and screen. jennifer grey went on to star in "dirty dancing" and 23 years later was the winner of "dancing with the stars'" season 11. she continues to appear in film and television. >> alan ruck had a long run on the popular sitcom "spin city" and appeared in many feature films and television series. >> mia sara appeared opposite jean claude van damme in "timecop" and starred in several television movies and tv shows, but the actress remains best-known for the role she played in that perfect day. >> i'm really grateful, 'cause it's been a wonderful thing to be in it, and i completely understand why people love it, you know, as much as they do. >> who could have guessed that this would resonate so much with so many young people? >> narrator: after writing and producing "some kind of wonderful" in
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1986, john hughes never returned to the teen films that had made him famous. he went on to blockbuster success with "home alone" and its sequels before turning to such family films as "flubber," "101 dalmatians," and "miracle on 34th street." in the end, he preferred just writing and producing. after 1991's "curly sue," he never directed another film. >> he dropped out of hollywood. and so many directors love showing up at red-carpet events or love showing up at the oscars of love being interviewed for documentaries. he lived a normal life in terms of, you know, he hung out with his family and went to restaurants and bookstores and things like that. it's not like he was a hermit. but in terms of the media, he completely withdrew from all of that. >> he wasn't really interested in playing the hollywood game, which is why he moved back to chicago and worked out of, you know, his home in lake forest. he didn't like being in this town and found a way to do everything that he wanted the way he wanted to do it and built
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his own studio there. >> narrator: much to everyone's shock, john hughes died of a heart attack august 6, 2009, at the age of 59. >> it was one of the people at fox news, and he said, "can you go on the air now and talk about john hughes?" and i said, "has he gotten a lifetime achievement award? is that what it's about?" and they said, "no. he died." and i said, "that's impossible." he was a young man. he was quite a bit younger than i was. and he said, "no, he just died walking down the street in new york." and i must say i broke into tears. i was just dumbfounded. and i might add, again, i wasn't a particularly close friend of his, but i felt he sort of got it about human nature in many, many ways, and i felt sad at the loss. and i still feel sad at the loss. >> he wasn't the kind of person you just hung out with, you know? but i loved his wife and his family, and we had a really great relationship. >> for teenagers who had grown up on those movies, i can imagine what a huge loss that
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must have felt like. it's enormous. >> he left hollywood too soon, and he left this life too soon. i loved him so much, and he just enjoyed the hell out of me. and i always appreciate the people who get me, and he was that guy. [ voice breaking ] i loved him very much. >> narrator: john hughes may have dropped out of the media spotlight, but the movies he made live on. >> john hughes' movies forever changed how hollywood makes and markets youth films. >> his voice has influenced several generations. >> narrator: maybe nowhere more so than with "ferris bueller's day off." hughes set out to chronicle the perfect day. he ended up creating a movie that's lasted 25 years. >> he understands the universal things that make people laugh and the universal things that make people cry and the universal things that make it so hard to be a teenager.
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>> i think the reason the movie was so beloved is simply because there's a great message. life is short. you're always gonna have things you have to do, whether it be going to school that day or going to work that day, but that you really should, when you can, seize the day and try to grasp happiness. >> it's silly, it's goofy, but life is short. you got to go for it every minute of every day. >> it's 25 years. it's kind of remarkable. >> narrator: 2 1/2 decades later, the perfect day lives on. >> you're still here? it's over. go home. go. captioning sponsored by a&e television networks
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Inside Story
BIO September 1, 2012 7:00am-9:00am EDT

Series/Special. Matthew Broderick stars in the 1986 coming-of-age comedy from writer/director John Hughes. (CC)

TOPIC FREQUENCY John Hughes 15, Ferris Bueller 11, John 8, Rooney 6, Chicago 5, Bueller 5, Hollywood 4, Iams 3, Charlie Sheen 3, Sears 3, Us 3, Matthew Broderick 2, New York 2, Bada 2, Cameron 2, Maxwell 2, Paul Hirsch 2, Charlie 2, California 1, Hudson Sprayers 1
Network BIO
Duration 02:00:00
Rating PG-13;L
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Virtual Ch. 275 (BIO)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 528
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
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on 9/1/2012